By Enrique Krauze
HarperCollins, $29.99, 560 pages

Ideas – they can have power and influence; ideas can re-shape the world we live in. Ideas are what drive brilliant political thinkers and movements around the world. In Latin America ideas have power. They can change a society, incite a revolution, and give voice to the voiceless. Ideas can lead to other forms of government that are not adaptable to democracy; people who believe in ideas might change through time and believe something else years later. Ideas drive the history of Latin America, so without understanding the role that ideas play, you cannot understand the history of the region.

In Redeemers: Ideas and Power in Latin America, Enrique Krauze takes a look at the major players. He explores their ideas, how they fought for their ideals, and how they often failed and became something else. The book is in chronological format, with Octavio Paz being the bridge from the 19th to the 20th century. This book is admirable, but the beginning is a mess. Krauze goes off on long tangents, and then barely gets back on track right before the chapter ends. His writing is at times hard to follow, and he needed a good editor. He finally starts to find his way around the long Octavio Paz chapter.

Reviewed by Kevin Winter